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Court Clerk Fired for Relationship with Prisoner; Bar Complaint Against Federal Prosecutor Exposed Relationship

In August 2007, a deputy clerk at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was fired after an investigation revealed she had a personal relationship with a prisoner who flooded the courts with legal filings.

Federal prisoner William G. Moore was convicted in October 1995 on conspiracy, methamphetamine and money laundering charges in Washington State. He was sentenced to life imprisonment due to his prior criminal history and incarcerated at a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon.

In the years since his conviction, Moore has filed more than two dozen appeals and other filings in federal courts in Oregon and Washington, proclaiming his innocence and claiming he was wrongfully convicted.

Moore has also been a frequent filer in the Ninth Circuit, where deputy court clerk Jane Cross, 57, handled filings in his cases beginning in 2000. At some point Cross and Moore began a personal relationship – writing, calling and even visiting at FCI Sheridan.

The government trained its crosshairs on Cross in June 2007 after she filed a complaint with the Washington State Bar Association against U.S. Attorney Kurt Hermanns. The bar complaint accused Hermanns of committing perjury in his 1995 prosecution of Moore.

Cross was accused of violating her oath to remain impartial in carrying out her official duties by filing the complaint on Moore’s behalf. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle, Washington responded to the bar complaint by investigating whether Moore had tried to influence or intimidate Cross, since it was unusual for a court clerk to take such personal interest in a case.

Federal judge Robert Lasnik ordered the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to provide information about contacts between Cross and Moore. The BOP dutifully turned over recordings of 243 telephone conversations from January 2007 through the end of July 2007, almost daily letters from Cross to Moore since November 2006, and a visitor log revealing that Cross had visited Moore at FCI Sheridan several times in 2007.

The conversations and letters contained expressions of affection and intimacy; they also indicated that Cross had assisted Moore with his legal pleadings and contacted other court officials on his behalf, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The BOP prohibited Cross from visiting the facility and blocked further phone calls between her and Moore. In response, Cross wrote to Sheridan’s assistant warden in August 2007, stating her communications with Moore had been “closely and thoroughly monitored and scrutinized,” and saying “at no time have I compromised the security or integrity at FCI Sheridan.”

Cross said she found the suggestion that Moore had attempted to influence or intimidate her ridiculous, noting they had a “personal” relationship. She maintained she had done nothing wrong, but officials at the Ninth Circuit apparently felt otherwise.

Sources: The Associated Press, Post-Intelligencer

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